Sunday, March 10, 2013

Diana Pimental, Association Official

A Tampa Bay Downs insider’s opinions, observations and reflections about their favorite sport

Diana Pimental’s experience as a jockey’s agent, both here and at Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts, is invaluable on those hectic mornings when the Tampa Bay Downs racing office is scrambling to recruit horses to fill a card. “Diana can hustle a race,” said Racing Secretary Allison De Luca. “If you give her one to fill, it will go.” Pimental is in her 11th season at Tampa Bay Downs and fourth as placing judge during afternoon racing, when she works with fellow officials Ed Cantlon and Jen Moore. “It’s my job to make sure the correct numbers are posted during a race and after the finish,” Pimental said. “We do have fans who tell us after a photo finish they could have sworn their horse won, but the camera doesn’t lie.” As an agent, Pimental’s Tampa Bay Downs clients have included Jesse Garcia, Pedro Cotto, Jr., Jose Bermudez and Edwin Molinari. She still “hustles book” at Suffolk and will work there this season for jockey Hector Ramos. John Pimental, Diana’s husband, is a successful trainer who conditions the popular gelding National Hero, a winner of 15 of 39 lifetime starts who won consecutive Joseph E. Carney Memorial Awards as New England’s Champion Turf Male at 8 and 9 years old. The Pimentals have three daughters: Tabitha and Jennifer are in the bakery business and Kasie, who lives in Germany, is a schoolteacher. They also have six grandchildren, including Kasie’s son Jonathan Oswald, a winning pitcher for the Ramstein Air Force Base team at the 2010 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

HOMETOWN: Attleboro, Mass.


BEST HORSE I’VE EVER SEEN: Cigar was the best male horse I’ve watched, and Zenyatta was the best female. (Trainer) Bill Mott let us come to his barn to meet Cigar when he ran in the Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk in 1995 and ’96, during his 16-race winning streak. What a thrill that was!


HOW I GOT STARTED IN RACING: My husband’s late father was also a trainer, and John was an exercise rider for his dad. I worked in a shoelace factory and as a cook in our girls’ school, but I was just waiting for them to get older so I could get involved in racing. I was an owner and an assistant for John at first, but (jockey) Julian Vazquez kept begging me to become an agent, and I’ve been doing that almost 25 years.


MY BIGGEST INSPIRATION: My husband. He’ll train horses in the morning and pony horses during the races. His work ethic has always been a great example.


CHANGE I WOULD MAKE TO RACING: Find a way to provide more insurance coverage for jockeys who are hurt or disabled.


MY FAVORITE SPORTS TEAMS/ATHLETE: The New England Patriots and Tom Brady. I love all the Boston teams.


NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET LIST: Take a vacation to Disney World for a week. We love it, but we’ve only stayed a day at a time.


FAVORITE TV SHOW: Survivor. My favorite player is Boston Rob.


FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA BAY DOWNS: I get to work with one of my best friends, (Stakes Coordinator) Gerry Stanislawzyk. I love working with everyone here. It’s a rewarding feeling when we know we’ve put together a real good card.


WHAT ELSE I’D BE DOING IF. … I probably would open a day-care center. I let everybody’s kids hang out with me at Suffolk.


ADVICE TO SOMEONE STARTING IN RACING: Always love your horses and treat them like your favorite pet.


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